Sea Lion Shot in Head at Close Range Found in La Jolla

A SeaWorld San Diego veterinarian said two sea lions have been discovered with gun shot wounds in the La Jolla area in the past few weeks.

SeaWorld San Diego is caring for a young adult sea lion that was rescued from a La Jolla beach with a gunshot wound to the head. The 275-pound male sea lion was shot at close range earlier this month, but is expected to recover from his injuries and be released back into the wild soon.

“The person that shot him was definitely intending to kill him,” said SeaWorld Senior Animal Care Specialist Heather Ruce.

Ruce said SeaWorld picked up the sea lion—now named Buck—on Oct. 5 near the La Jolla Cove. At the time, SeaWorld thought Buck had a severe bite injury to his face, but soon realized the injury was a result of a shotgun blast at close proximity.

Dr. Hendrik Nollens, a veterinarian at SeaWorld, said Buck is not the first marine mammal with gunshot wounds rescued from this area of La Jolla in the past few weeks. Nollens said another sea lion was found with gun shot wounds to his body a few weeks back. Unfortunately, that sea lion passed away due to other health complications.

Buck is doing well recovering at SeaWorld. He is eating and taking all of his antibacterial medications, although he did lose his right eye.

“Sea lions are very crafty. They adapt very quickly. They learn techniques very quickly… even with one eye he will be catching fish again,” said Dr. Nollens.

SeaWorld will release Buck when they feel he is wounds have healed enough to ward off risk of infections.

“His outlook is good and the plan is definitely to return him to the wild,” said Nollens.

SeaWorld has reported both incidents of gunshot wounds to sea lions to the La Jolla area have been reported in accordance to the Marine Animal Protection Act, according to SeaWorld.

Also read: Federal Authorities Investigate Two Sea Lions Shot Near La Jolla

Please keep your distance from distressed or injuries marine mammals. If you see a distress or injured marine mammal call 1-800-541-SEAL or notify nearby lifeguards or police.

James October 19, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Elizabeth Hansen October 19, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Clearly this is inhumane, but it's also economically stupid. La Jolla merchants, hoteliers, and restaurant owners are staging events to draw visitors to our community, but do you know what really brings people here: seals and sea lions. Whoever shot that poor animals also made a hole in our tourism industry. Elizabeth Hansen www.LaJollaTravelInformation.com
Jane Reldan, MD October 19, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Horrifying violence!
Carol McElheney October 20, 2012 at 12:11 AM
My brother used to work on a fishing charter out of Point Loma 40 years ago, as a teenager. He told me the captains would shoot at sea lions for interrupting fishing. Maybe this is still occurring. Maybe something DFG can look into.
Jason Moffatt November 05, 2012 at 08:10 AM
Here's my guess, and it's a damn good one because I've been witness to Seals being shot. I'd wager that it was fishermen who shot the seal. When I was on a tuna bought (The Alaska) out of San Diego Harbor about ten years ago the captain shot a seal in the bay while we were trying to gather bait. The reason they shoot them is because when you try to gather a ton of sardines or anchovies in one place, the seals like to come in and feed and it scares the fish and scatters them everywhere. This means the guys in the skiff pulling net are losing fish by the second. Obviously I was appalled at what was happening, but when I raised my voice in protest, I was looked at like I was crazy. That's just what these guys did on the boat, and it appeared like it was a normal thing for them. Once I got off the boat I instantly reported them to maritime sheriff but they didn't do shit about it. Sadly, I was on the boat for a whole month.
Jason Moffatt November 05, 2012 at 08:11 AM
Ah yes, I just commented below and this is more than likely what happened. I experienced the same thing.
Carol McElheney November 06, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Sea lions come up the Sacramento iver in salmon season and suffer the same fate here in Sacramento.


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